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Desperation led to Shell’s plotting to exploit 9/11 attacks

Screen Shot 2014-02-10 at 16.29.29BUILD UP TO SHELL RESERVES SCANDAL: Comments by leading Shell execs: “…the market will want to know whose head is going to roll for what they will see as blatant deception.”; “this is potential dynamite for management credibility and the share price”; “…how you have to break the detail of this news in September, assuming that there is indeed a firestorm of hostile comment…”; “why should we have any more confidence in these numbers than the previous ones…”; “…please don’t let the people who have got us into this mess be under any illusion that there is an ‘easy’ answer…”; “You will blight the relative TSR of the Group and everyone’s score card for years to come”; ‘So “blaming”’ it on field declines and slippage on growth in emerging markets is the least we should do in order to downgrade expectations.’

By John Donovan

When we published an article about Shell executives plotting to exploit the 9/11 attacks, we said that the motive behind the discussion was well founded internal and external concern about Shell production growth and problematic reserves.

We now publish Shell internal emails circulated in the months leading up to 9/11, which provide proof of the degree of concern over these issues that led to Shell executives considering such a distasteful strategy to manipulate the markets.

Some extracts: read more and its sister websites,, and are all owned by John Donovan

9/11 Terror Attack and the Shell Reserves Scandal

By John Donovan

On Friday we published an article revealing Shell internal email correspondence, which provided proof that three weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attack on the USA, Shell executives were considering how Shell could exploit the horrific event for commercial reasons.

As can be seen from the correspondence, the objective was to “buy us a bit of time” in dealing with “production growth” … and “reserves replacement…” Both are key factors in assessing the value of an oil company. Shell was increasingly vulnerable to criticism on both issues.
read more and its sister websites,, and are all owned by John Donovan


“I found the emails interesting and indicative of the deception Shell management was clearly engaged in. They were trying to exploit the events of 9/11 to their benefit. What these emails could have done at the time they were written is cause Shell’s stock to drop significantly.

By John Donovan

I stumbled across some intriguing Shell internal email correspondence while searching the US Court files for the class action litigation relating to the Shell reserves scandal. We have no comment whatsoever to make about the content of the email correspondence, which is self-explanatory.

The correspondence involved the following individuals with job titles at the time of the emails:

Aidan McKay: Manager Shell EP – The Hague (or Head Global Strategic Planning & Capital Allocation)
read more and its sister websites,, and are all owned by John Donovan
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